Plastering over the cracks is simply not enough
FitzRoy’s response to the Spring budget
As Phillip Hammond announces a welcome cash injection of an extra £2 billion to fund social care over three years, we in the sector know this is simply not enough. The significant challenges facing learning disability providers will not be addressed until the Government gets behind a fundamental review into health and social care.
At FitzRoy, a national charity supporting people with learning disabilities, we believe, firstly, that providers need to be involved in decision making and reviews. When a third of councils’ social care spending goes on support for people with learning disabilities, and the voluntary sector has a huge amount to bring to the table, why is it we rarely get a seat. Shockingly, there are no learning disability providers sitting on the Transforming Care board. This short-sighted approach, along with the funding cuts, is leading to the growing crisis.
Secondly, we need a better long-term funding deal. Charity sector providers, though often cheaper, more innovative, and preferred, are facing hourly rates as low as £12.50. This rate for commissioned hours is hardly enough to cover basic needs, yet must also pay for necessary quality systems which require complex audit trails.
We are scrabbling around to pay for new workforce legislation. The living wage, auto enrolment, sleep in, and travel time payments, are all signs of a fairer settlement for people at the cutting edge of social care. But without the necessary funding the legislation becomes another overwhelming pressure on costs which some providers simply cannot meet. All of us desperately want to reward staff fairly, we highly value their expertise and training, but we are now cutting from a bone already stripped bare.
These factors lead to real concerns about the future for people with learning disabilities. It is the reason senior, experienced managers are retiring and leaving, or just going home feeling defeated every day for trying to make a difference with the odds stacked against them.
If we are to do more than simply plaster over the cracks we urgently need a long-term funding plan. We must fundamentally rethink the system of regulation, commissioning and provision and look at where the system fails to drive efficiency and simply layers further bureaucracy on to an overstretched sector. In a declining funding regime it is imperative we work collaboratively and creatively to provide sustainable and excellent support to the people we exist to help.
Anna Galliford, Chief Executive FitzRoy